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Cablegate: Sao Paulo: Marta Suplicy's Mayoral Candidacy Could Lead To

VZCZCXRO3489
PP RUEHRG
DE RUEHSO #0285/01 1581725
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061725Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL SAO PAULO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8276
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9407
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 3171
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 3419
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0747
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 2721
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 3830
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2419
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 8745
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 4128
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 3105
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SAO PAULO 000285

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC, INR/IAA, INR/R/AA
STATE PASS USTR FOR KATE DUCKWORTH
NSC FOR TOMASULO
TREASURY FOR JHOEK
USDOC FOR 4332/ITA/MAC/WH/OLAC
USDOC ALSO FOR 3134/USFCS/OIO
DOL FOR ILAB
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
USAID FOR LAC/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR BR
SUBJECT: SAO PAULO: MARTA SUPLICY'S MAYORAL CANDIDACY COULD LEAD TO
2010 PRESIDENTIAL BID

REF: (A) Sao Paulo 225; (B) Sao Paulo 142; (C) Sao Paulo 94 (D) Brasilia 674

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY
1. (SBU) On June 4, Marta Suplicy confirmed her resignation as
Minister of Tourism and her pre-candidacy as the Workers' Party (PT)
candidate for Mayor of Sao Paulo. She and the PT are counting on
three elements - President Lula's popularity, the strong economy,
and division in opposition ranks - to propel them to victory in Sao
Paulo's Mayoral election this year. Nationwide, the PT is counting
on the municipal elections to strengthen its electoral base in
preparation for electing a successor to Lula in 2010. If Suplicy is
elected Mayor this year, she would greatly enhance her chances of
becoming the PT candidate for President in 2010. End Summary.

2. (U) In addition to Suplicy, Minister of Social Security Luiz
Marinho also resigned in order to run for Mayor of Sao Bernardo do
Campo, an important industrial suburb of Sao Paulo that gave rise to
President Lula's early career as a labor leader.

3. (SBU) Suplicy, who served as Sao Paulo Mayor from 2001 through
2004 but lost her re-election bid to Jose Serra of the rival Social
Democracy Party of Brazil (PSDB), is in some ways a reluctant
candidate. Most observers agree that she would have preferred to
continue to serve in Lula's Cabinet and then run for Governor in
2010. However, she is far and away the strongest candidate the PT
can muster in Sao Paulo's largest city, and the fractious party is
largely united in its support for her candidacy. President Lula has
also given her his blessing and is expected to campaign for her.
Suplicy knows that a victory in Sao Paulo could propel her
immediately onto the short list of possible PT presidential
candidates in 2010.

4. (SBU) Required by law to resign her Ministry by June 5, four
months before the election, in order to be a candidate, Suplicy
waited until the last possible day. She has been enjoying the
spectacle of the opposition Social Democracy Party of Brazil's
(PSDB) internal split between supporters of former Governor Alckmin
and those who would prefer to maintain the alliance with the
Democratic Party (DEM) by supporting the re-election of incumbent
Mayor Gilberto Kassab (ref B). But Suplicy is also facing problems
of her own. To date, no party has agreed to enter into an alliance
with the PT. By way of contrast, Kassab and the DEMs have already
signed on two allies: the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB
- see ref A) and the Party of the Republic (PR). Though neither is
very large or influential, both add to the amount of free television
and radio advertising the Kassab ticket will be entitled to. The
failure to get the support of the PMDB - an ally on the national
level in President Lula's governing coalition - was a serious blow
to Marta and the PT. Alckmin, for his part, has landed the
Brazilian Labor Party (PTB) along with the tiny Social Christian
Democratic Party (PSDC).

5. (SBU) There are three center-left parties that would be natural
allies of Suplicy and the PT - the Communists (PC do B), the
Socialists (PSB), and the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) - but each
has a prospective candidate of its own. This "Bloquinho da
Esquerda" (Little Left Bloc) has expressed the intention to unite
behind a single candidate in Sao Paulo and several other cities with
a view to breaking the PSDB-PT duopoly and paving the way for the
likely 2010 presidential bid of federal deputy Ciro Gomes (PSB-CE).
In early May, when former Sao Paulo Mayor Luiza Erundina (1989-92)
told the press she had been offered the position of Marta Suplicy's
running mate and was agreeable, she was quickly and publicly
criticized by her own party's leadership and other members of the
Bloquinho. The most likely "Bloquinho" candidate for Mayor is Aldo
Rebelo (PC doB), a former political coordinator in Lula's government
who later served (2005-06) as President of the Chamber of Deputies.
Though unlikely even to break into double digits, a "Bloquinho"
candidate like Rebelo would take votes away from Suplicy. The PT
continues to negotiate with the center-left parties, but whether a
deal can be struck remains unclear.

6. (SBU) Suplicy, who is running neck-and-neck in the polls with
former Governor Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), is poular among the poor
and is likely to do well in he marginalized neighborhoods on the
city's peripery. Her term as Mayor was notable for the
consruction of Unified Educational Centers (CEUs), in hich schools
doubled as neighborhood community cnters, and by a commitment to
affordable public ransportation as exemplified by the "bilhete
unico" allowing passengers to travel interchangeably onbuses and
Metro for a single fare valid for fourhours. At the same time, she
was accused duringher first term of contracting irregularities and
financial mismanagement, and polls show her with a high rejection
rate, due in part to a personal style that many perceive as
arrogant.

7. (U) In an interview with leading-circulation daily Folha de Sao
Paulo timed to coincide with her announcement, Suplicy said she
wants to "reconquer the middle class that I lost in 2004." She
stated that transportation would be her priority and promised a "war
effort" and a "management shock" to address the city's chaotic
traffic and its public transportation deficiencies. She criticized
past and present (mostly PSDB) Governors for a subway system she
described as 20 years behind the times. She also characterized the
Mayoral performance of Jose Serra (who departed in 2006 to run for
Governor) and incumbent Gilberto Kassab as "timid and mediocre" and
blamed them for rolling back her achievements in office.

8. (SBU) Comment: The most likely scenario is that Suplicy will make
it into the second round of the election with either Kassab or
Alckmin as her opponent. What will happen then is impossible to
say. Her candidacy has the potential to invigorate the PT base. PT
state chairman Edinho Silva said the party will try to capitalize on
Lula's popularity and the good will generated by economic stability
and the government's commitment to social progress. "But in a local
campaign, even a friendly President and federal government support
will only take you so far," he noted. "What matters is whether
voters believe the candidate will take care of the city and its
people and deliver good services." Opponents will remind voters of
Suplicy's faux pas - advising travelers victimized by the country's
aviation chaos to "relax and enjoy" - but the PT has an efficient
electoral machine in the city that should serve her well. If she
can win back Sao Paulo, her party will have to consider whether she
might make a stronger candidate than Dilma Rousseff (see ref D) -
Lula's current favorite - in the 2010 presidential elections. End
Comment.

9. (U) This cable was coordinated with and cleared by Embassy
Brasilia.

WHITE

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